[dropcap]A[/dropcap]NTALYA – Turkey’s and Europe’s first underwater museum has officially opened in Antalya. The museum displays 110 sculptures in five different themes.
Taking a pioneering step for both Turkey and the European continent, cultural and trade officials in the southern district of Side have cut the ribbon on a new underwater museum on the Mediterranean.
The Side Underwater Museum, which was constructed by the chamber of Maritime Trade Antalya Branch (IMEAK), officially opened over the weekend in Antalya’s Manavgat district with 110 sculptures.
The museum is the first and only one of its kind in Turkey and Europe, IMEAK Chairman Kendiroğlu said, adding that they were planning to improve diving tourism and open underwater museums in Kemer, Alanya and the Antalya provincial center in the coming years.
Kendiroğlu said the sculptures had been designed to avoiding damaging the natural environment underwater.
“We have realized a very nice project. The world’s biggest underwater museum is in Cancun, Mexico. There are 3 million tourists in the world who are actively involved in diving tourism. The museum has five main themes. This year 30,000 people visited the museum. Our goal is to draw 500,000 people annually at first and then 1 million. There is a real increase in underwater tourism. We believe that we can get very nice tourism income from this sector,” he said.
Kendiroğlu said the area of the underwater museum was closed to sea traffic, adding that everyone holding a certificate could dive there for free.
The owner of Side Silver Diving School, Ahmet Gülaydın, said diving tourism had increased by 30 percent in Side after the opening of his school, adding that they had first promoted the museum in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
“Diving tourists mostly choose Mexico, Egypt, New Zealand, India and Turkey,” he added.